AS (2016) CR 05
2016 ORDINARY SESSION
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 10.00 a.m.
The Mediterranean Sea: a front door to irregular migration
Organised crime and migrants
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
Ms ANTTILA (Finland) – First, I would like to congratulate the rapporteurs, Ms Dumery and Mr Chikovani, on their important reports. The dramatic increase in irregular migration into Europe of recent years has been facilitated by networks of migration smugglers. A lot of illegal activities, such as the trafficking of human beings and drugs, may also be traced to migrant smuggling and migrant smugglers.
This illegal movement of people has made it possible for terrorists to move freely among refugees due to a lack of border controls. I am worried about that. IS terrorists are now present all over Europe. People’s security is under serious threat. The attacks in Paris were planned in Brussels. We will witness many more attacks if we do not stop this kind of development. The main question is: how can we avoid this kind of development taking place?
The peaceful settlement of hostilities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is a necessary condition for ending the human exodus and enabling refugees to return to their own countries. We need a peace treaty for Syria in order to end the war.
If we do not succeed in doing this, it will mean millions more refugees in Europe. The European Union Action Plan against migrant smuggling 2015-2020 is very important. We need a legal response to disrupt the smugglers’ business model. We also need well-functioning hotspots for the reception and processing of asylum applicants. In these kinds of exceptional circumstances we must reinstall strict border controls.
People in danger must be helped. It is a question of human rights that everybody is entitled to. At the same time, we must try to avoid movements of people who are only seeking better living standards. In Finland, we received 34 000 refugees last year, 70% of whom were from Iraq. Over 3 100 of them have already returned to Iraq of their own free will.
Mr GHAMBOU (Morocco, Partner for Democracy) – Arguments about irregular migration across the Mediterranean are not lacking, but solutions to this complex problem are. We need to implement a global policy capable of answering the basic question: why do thousands of young men and women risk their lives to reach their European destination?
We all know the classical reasons that lead to irregular migration: civil wars, dangerous political instability, extreme poverty, and lack of opportunity. Reinforcing border security is not a lasting solution, nor is humanitarian aid, which I described before as a painkiller that might reduce the pain but does not cure the disease.
We need to adopt an urgent economic policy that fulfils the following objectives: wealthy nations must invest in the countries exporting irregular migrants by developing income-generating programmes in both urban and rural areas; provide candidates for irregular migration with a useful education and training to find the same job opportunities at home as they seek abroad; and, give more incentives to European companies interested in investing in economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, infrastructure, and renewable energy.
Morocco has recently begun to reach some of these objectives by adopting a South-South approach, encouraging both the government and the private sector to invest in sub-Saharan Africa. We may think of expanding this into a triangle approach, involving Europe, Morocco, and sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco’s current huge investment in the Sahara is a positive step in that direction.
Mr MUNYAMA (Morocco, Partner for Democracy) – I would like to start by thanking and congratulating both rapporteurs for the excellent job they have done to tackle the difficult issues of "the Mediterranean Sea: a front door to irregular migration, organised crime and migrants".
Many might underrate the impact of organised crime on the issue of migration and refugees which we are facing currently. We at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should indeed condemn individuals who have been involved in smuggling migrants into Europe in recent years. I do have a strong feeling that organised crime has exacerbated the migrant issue in Europe. No migrant would look for greener pastures where chances of succeeding in life are limited to zero after illegally crossing over boarders. It is a risky venture indeed and can occur through dubious means, entailing the involvement of a network of migrant smugglers.
Unfortunately, hoping for the best is not enough. Therefore, there should be strong emphasis on the European police units responsible for monitoring social media sites for terrorist activity; they should work hard to expand their focus to find people traffickers. European police units should look for traffickers advertising their services online. We are all aware of the fact that law enforcement officials have warned that drug smuggling rings have switched to smuggling refugees and migrants. This is because it has become a lucrative business.
Let us all join hands together to combat the wrongdoings of organised crime; otherwise more disasters will occur as we move towards the spring and summer of 2016.
Ms TOLHURST (United Kingdom) – It is an honour to address the Assembly as a new member of the United Kingdom delegation. I am also a new Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom – I represent a port in south-east England where the refugee/migrant crisis and its effects on Europe and the United Kingdom has been of significant political importance.
Part of my region was brought to a standstill in the last months of summer as refugees/migrants attempted to enter the United Kingdom from member States, also putting their lives at risk as we control our borders. I recognise the unprecedented pressures the crisis in the Mediterranean has brought to some of our member States on the frontline.
This crisis and its long term impact on Europe and the region I represent are of great concern for people. The reports before us were produced during an evolving crisis; they attempt to address the desperate situation we are seeing in the Mediterranean, and I congratulate Madame Dumery on the work she has carried out.
Sadly, I believe this report does not sufficiently address the measures required or provide a clear strategy to tackle the root cause of the crisis. Nor does it attempt to consider the long term implications of the changing face of Europe and the long term effects on member States. It is not enough to just reflect on this – to secure a good future for Europe, we must not be emotional, but strong and determined. Measures to reduce the incentives do not go far enough. The criminals who are exploiting these desperate people will continue to do so.
The implementation of a permanent relocation mechanism, increasing access and enhancing resettlement admissions will not discourage the desperate from making these perilous journeys. I believe that more could be done to provide aid to the people in the affected regions. The United Kingdom has contributed £1.12 billion to the crisis and prioritised humanitarian aid. Europe must do more to engage the rest of the world too. It is not only a crisis for Europe, but for the rest of the world. We must continue to have this debate within Europe in the hope that we will find the answers to help people living in conflict and to stop the flow of desperate people looking for a safe haven.